brown lion



Last year, I remember cleaning my kitchen counter when an idea hit me. It wasn’t an idea, as much as it was a revelation about how to view my life, and the success criteria in which I judged my everyday actions.

“Shift from a currency mindset to a value-driven mindset.”

I remember that idea hit me in such a way that it almost felt as if somebody were whispering in my ear, similar to the way I heard the words “Make beautiful things and help other people” while sitting at my kitchen counter in Portland – shortly after being fired from my job.

I believe that we can hear God’s voice at any given moment. In fact, I believe we can hear it every single day when we make the space for it. However, I think there are key moments in life where the voice is so clear that you feel as if somebody is whispering right into your physical ear. Those messages are the ones that you can’t ignore.

For over a year now, I’ve asked myself countless times if the things I’m doing are in alignment with a value-based mindset.

When I say ‘currency mindset’ I’m referring to the dollars-and-cents, black-and-white mindset that demands you reach a certain point in order to be successful. I think this sort of goal is overly common and even promoted by a plethora of motivational speakers, authors and culture.

It became clear to me that for most of my life, I’ve had a one-dimensional metric for my life, which has been valued by the number in my bank account, rather than through my own evaluation of whether or not I was staying true to the values in my heart.

When I looked at my life through the 1D metric, all I saw and felt was failure. That feeling of failure felt like a heavy burden on my shoulders that crushed me a little more with every year that passed.

The revelation to view my life through a value-based perspective changed things dramatically, because it required that I let go of a success criteria that I’ve held for most of my adult years. It felt like telling somebody who was used to painting in between the lines to take a hammer and smash the guidelines that constrained them, in order to let the true artist within get out of their cage.

When I started to view my own life through the lens of heart, I started to shed a lot of the guilt, shame and feelings of failure. I started to see myself for who I am, while also taking responsibility and ownership of who I’ve been; including all of the times where I said, did or embodied things that I would rather not repeat.

For the last year, the best way I’ve been able to evaluate whether or not my priorities are in alignment with a value-based mindset has been in the responsibility I have as a Dad. I chose to fire the babysitter who would watch Atlas several times a week, choosing to take on the full responsibility of caring for him myself.

That choice was a costly one, because it severely limited the amount of client work I was (and am) able to manage each month. What was the outcome? Loss of income – in exchange for uninterrupted time with my flesh and blood, who gets 100% of my attention, time, love and care.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. I consider it the best investment I’ve ever made, because I witness the fruit of it every time I spend time with Atlas. When he’s with Dad, he’s well-behaved, doesn’t throw tantrums, scream or cry. He feels safe, while also knowing that he can’t get away with acting up – not because he’s scared of me losing my cool if he does, but because I’m present to correct him when he starts to go off the rails.

I’ll never hold it against my parents that we shopped at thrift stores, drove fifth-hand cars, didn’t take fancy vacations or never ‘owned’ a home (who really does?) because they gave me a gift that money couldn’t buy; themselves.

Jesus once said: Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust don’t corrupt. My interpretation of this is that He meant we ought to create the things here on earth that transcend time, space and even dimensions.

In Bali, one of the common practices for the locals is to give offerings every morning at their local banyan tree. They believe everybody goes to these trees when they die, and the spirit of the person is able to see the ‘spirit’ or essence, of the offering – rather than the offering itself. When you do things on this plane[t] that are done with unconditional love, the essence of it carries far beyond the physical realm.

I think that a value-based mentality for your life is similar to turning your life into a song, dance, rhythm and flow that carries you – instead of trying to carry your life one brick at a time.

Doing the ‘right’ thing isn’t always easy. In fact, doing the right thing is usually the guarantee that you’ll find more hardship in certain elements of your life. However, there’s one thing that you can always count on when you make the best choice for your life; you’ll find your footing.

In “The Pilgrims Progress” John Bunyan writes about a character who goes through a series of epic challenges and gauntlets as he makes his way to the ‘celestial city’. One story stood out to me, and continues to.

Pilgrim (the main character) approaches a long and dark passage in his journey. Off in the distance, he sees a glowing door, and is told to walk toward the door. As he begins his walk, he notices two fierce lions on either side of the path, frothing at the mouth at the sight of a potential meal. Fear begins to swell in his heart as he gets closer to the door and the lions begin running toward him.

The door opens, and out of it comes a shining white light that creates a thin path for him to walk on. The closer he comes to the door, the closer the lions come in their charge to devour him. Right as he gets to the center of the path, the lions snarl and lunge at him.

Pilgrim kept his eye on the door, and his feet steady.

Suddenly, the lions stop in their path. They’re chained, and unable to cross even a single inch into the white path – although their claws reach the very edge of it.

Pilgrim walks right by them, close enough to see their dripping saliva and smell their breath. He continues walking until he reaches the door.

This is what a value-based life looks and feels like. There are moments where you don’t know if the lions are chained – and you usually don’t find that out until they’re about to devour you. But, if you keep your eyes on the light ahead and feet firmly on the ground beneath you, without deviating an inch, you will arrive safely to your destination.

Lion breath smells awful.

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